Updated at 10:41 p.m: Additional comments from police Chief John Barber have been added to this story.
ITHACA, N.Y. – A new survey says that black and Hispanic teens in Ithaca are less likely than white teens to trust local police officers.
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The survey states that 64 percent of black teens do not think police equally protect Ithaca youth and 54 percent of black teens say officers are not using their power appropriately.
On a 1 – 5 scale, Hispanic teens reported feeling the least safe (2.7) when they see an officer and the least comfortable with asking an officer for help (3.0).
On the same scale, white teens ranked their feeling of safety at 3.7.
Black and Hispanic teens also said their race plays a factor when they interact with officers. White, Asian and mixed race teens reported the opposite experience, according to the survey’s findings.
Police Chief John Barber said, “This reinforces my desire to have a school resource officer, especially at the high school.” But he said there are not funds available to make that happen.
He said the department values the outcome of this survey but he is left without knowing why teens have these perceptions of police or if they answered questions based on personal experiences.
The information was gathered by the Ithaca Youth Council, which surveyed 387 teens. The statistics were presented at a Community Police Board meeting Wednesday afternoon.
Barber said he is receptive to creating a liaison with the youth council who could help communicate people’s concerns about police and work on solutions to help build trust between officers and teens.
He recommends that teens interested in being more involved with this issue contact the youth council. He said he is also willing to talk with people one-on-one about their concerns with the department.
“We have to have these conversations if we’re going to strengthen these relationships,” he said.
The following are slides are from the survey: